EXCLUSIVE: Nancy Kanter, EVP, Content and Creative Strategy, Disney Channels Worldwide, who launched and built Disney’s preschool TV channel Disney Junior, will leave the company at the end of January 2021 after two decades.
Gary Marsh, President and Chief Creative Officer for Disney Channels Worldwide, with whom Kanter has worked side by side for her entire tenure, just announced Kanter’s pending departure in a company email (You can read it below the post.)
The two agreed on a long transition to allow Marsh time to put together a comprehensive plan for the future at Disney Channels. Kanter is not expected to retire. After two decades at Disney Channels, shepherding content for kids and families, the well regarded executive felt she was ready for something new.
In his memo to staff, Marsh highlighted some of Kanter’s biggest accomplishments.
“Without a doubt, paramount among her many achievements is building one of the most culturally relevant channels and brands in the global kids’ television business, Disney Junior,” he wrote. “At every turn, Disney Junior is a reflection of what matters most to Nancy – entertaining narratives driven by original characters who bring the magic and heart of classic Disney into entirely new stories.”
He also acknowledged Kanter’s role in leading the creation of the CG-animated series Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, “which went on to become one of our most important franchises…ever.” Other signature Disney kids series whose development Kanter spearheaded included Disney Junior’s Doc McStuffins, the Emmy Award-winning Sofia the First and its groundbreaking spinoff Elena of Avalor, as well as High School Musical: The Musical: The Series for Disney+; and Secret Society of Second Born Royals, Disney Channel’s first original movie for Disney+. She also championed Disney Channel’s Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur and the animated fantasy-comedy The Owl House as well as Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Candace Against the Universe and The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder for Disney+.
Kanter joined Disney in 2001 as VP Original Programming, Playhouse Disney. She was promoted to SVP in 2004 and expanded role to SVP, Playhouse Disney Worldwide in 2008.
In 2012, Kanter was named EVP, Original Programming and General Manager, Disney Junior Worldwide. In 2017, her role expanded to all content for kids age 2-14 and she was promoted to EVP, Content and Creative Strategy, Disney Channels Worldwide
“There’s no question that the 19+ years I have spent at Disney Channel have been among the most productive and rewarding of my career,” Kanter said in response to Marsh’s email. “I could not be more proud of the content I’ve had a hand in creating and the teams I’ve been fortunate enough to lead. I will leave next year looking forward to continuing to create content that will have a lasting impact on the lives of kids and families around the world via today’s expansive entertainment landscape. I thank the leaders across the company for having given me the opportunity to not only grow as an executive but also as a contributor to the enduring legacy of great Disney storytelling that will live on for generations to come.
Here is Marsh’s memo in full:
I wanted to share some news with you.
Nancy Kanter, our trusted partner and creative leader for nearly 20 years, has decided to leave Disney Channel at the end of January 2021.
With her extraordinary talent and passion for storytelling, she helped us create stories for audiences who are just beginning to understand the power of stories. Without a doubt, paramount among her many achievements is building one of the most culturally relevant channels and brands in the global kids’ television business, Disney Junior. At every turn, Disney Junior is a reflection of what matters most to Nancy – entertaining narratives driven by original characters who bring the magic and heart of classic Disney into entirely new stories.
Another of Nancy’s remarkable and enduring accomplishments is leading the creation of a new way to showcase the most beloved character in the entire Disney universe, Mickey Mouse, to preschoolers and their parents — with the CG-animated series “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” which went on to become one of our most important franchises…ever.
Nancy also shepherded the development of another remarkable series for Disney Junior, “Doc McStuffins.” And it was Nancy who, early in the development of the series, called for the lead character to be visualized as a young Black girl, and we proudly celebrated Doc as she became a role model for all kids, and especially girls of color. The series won the prestigious Peabody Award, and was cited by critics as “one of the most important shows in the history of television.”
Her legacy also includes the Emmy Award-winning “Sofia the First” and its groundbreaking spinoff “Elena of Avalor,” and the recently launched “Mira, Royal Detective.” Each of these series is a testament to Nancy’s stewardship of culturally accurate and universally appealing stories with themes that are resonant and authentic to our diverse audiences.
In her expanded role as the head of creative content and strategy for DCWW, Nancy drove the successful development of “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” for Disney+, delivered Disney Channel’s first original movie, “Secret Society of Second Born Royals” to Disney+, and expanded upon the success of the Disney Channel Original Movie “Zombies” and “Descendants” franchises with the most recent movies that delivered even more viewers than their predecessors.
At our TV Animation studio, Nancy championed Disney Channel’s “Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur” and the animated fantasy-comedy “The Owl House” (our #1 animated series with girls and kids) and “Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Candace Against the Universe” and “The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder” for Disney+.
In her Disney tenure, it’s clear that the content Nancy has championed is world-class and vast – far too extensive to list here. But beyond the specific content, her enduring legacies are the people she’s mentored, and the culture she’s helped nurture – both of which embody and embrace Nancy’s commitment to honesty, integrity and excellence in every aspect of work.
I have no doubt she will continue to explore her passion for great stories in the next chapter of her impressive career. She’s not leaving us for many months, so we’ll have plenty of time to celebrate her before she departs. For now, though, please join me in wishing her a magical journey ahead.